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20 Things You Didn't Know about Cockroach Labs


Technology companies tend to come and go. When one stays around for a number of years, you typically know that they are doing something right. That certainly seems to be the case for Cockroach Labs. You can snicker at the name if you’d like, but the SQL database company has been in business since 2015 (SQL is the programming language computer databases use to ‘talk’ to one another). That fact alone means that they know what they are doing in an industry where the competition can be absolutely fierce. If you want to know more about them, here are 20 things you probably didn’t know.

1. All of the founders used to work for Google

The company was started by Ben Darnell, Peter Mattis, and Spencer Kimball. Every one of these individuals used to work for tech giant Google. Throughout their time at Google, all three individuals dreamed of having a company of their own. Eventually, they made the decision to stop dreaming and put together something with a system that was similar to the one used by Google, but with a few notable improvements. This was the beginning of Cockroach Labs and the founders have not looked back since that day.

2. They developed the company through open sourcing

They knew that in order to develop a program that was suitable, it would require a great deal of capital to get started. Even with their salaries at Google, it wasn't feasible for them to contribute all of the required start-up money on their own. As such, they used an open-source site called GitHub, providing public access to the project in 2014. The project kicked off and was more successful than any of them could have ever hoped. As such, they were able to get all the funding they needed to start their company in a relatively short amount of time.

3. The company even gained notoriety for its open sourcing efforts

In fact, they raised the money so quickly that they even received an award from Black Duck Software, known as the Open Source Rookie of the Year award. This early success proved that the co-founders were on their way to creating something that was unlike anything else available at the time. Even in the world of database management services, they knew that they had something special. Apparently, so did everyone else.

4. The founders worked tirelessly to make their dream a reality

Make no mistake about it, it wasn't just the open source funding that allowed them to achieve their dream. All of the co-founders worked tirelessly to campaign their new pet project, traveling around to all kinds of conferences and networking with partners in order to secure funding. As it turns out, their efforts definitely paid off. In addition to the other open source funding that they got for the initial start-up costs, they were also able to secure several additional rounds of funding through that same manner. This has allowed them to continue to develop new and innovative products that give them an opportunity to rise above the competition, all while making money in the process.

5. They recently moved into the proprietary market

Prior to June 2019, the company was using a software license that was free to the public known as Apache 2.0. After that time, they chose to develop their own proprietary software called BSL, or Business Source License. The idea behind the change in license is to force businesses to pay for the software data management services provided by the company. At the same time, the general public can continue to use such software free of charge. It is supposed to provide the best of both of both worlds, maximizing protection and efficiency for the companies that utilize such services, all without making the public pay for something that they didn’t have to pay for before.

6. They market their services in commercial database management

In this market, it’s all about making sure that companies can get the information they need when they need it. In a global economy, businesses have to be able to communicate with other companies, creating the ability to work together in real time. Documents can now be stored in the Cloud and rapidly disseminated to clients, regardless of where the meeting is taking place. In fact, the use of these services completely eliminates the need to have a physical meeting in only one geographic location. As long as the primary stakeholders can teleconference with one another, documents can be sent to several different locations electronically. This speeds the process of doing business. It also makes it possible to do business in ways that weren’t even possible a few short years ago. Cockroach Labs even keeps copies of its data in multiple locations. That way, if something happens to a server in one location, they can use another one in a different location to make sure the proper documents are sent without delay.

7. They claim that they can reach thousands of servers almost simultaneously

One of the reasons they built their system the way they did was to make it almost impenetrable. Being former employees of Google, they know what this industry is like and how fast things can sometimes go wrong. As such, they have worked tirelessly to build something that is so resilient, it would take an event of unprecedented proportions to bring all of their servers down. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, they are providing a service to clients who are paying for those services. As such, they owe it to their clients to give them the most efficient and secure service possible. Second, they have an innate understanding about the industry as a whole that many people simply don't possess. Because of that intimate knowledge, they are able to anticipate problems and then work to find solutions to them before they actually happen.

8. They have designed their system with a great deal of redundancy

The key to designing a system like this that is almost impossible to take down is redundancy. That is precisely why they have so many servers located in geographically distant areas. When they store information for a client, they don't merely store it in one place and forget about it. Instead, that information is stored in several different locations on a number of different servers. If one goes down, the information is still available on any number of additional servers. Furthermore, they have several layers of encrypted protection to prevent hackers from getting a hold of personal information, even if a problem with one of their servers exists.

9. Everything is stored in the Cloud for easy transfer of data

In order to keep everything running smoothly, the information stored on their servers is also backed up in the Cloud. What does this mean for clients? It basically means that almost every server the company owns could physically go down, yet client information would still be stored, encrypted and protected. Since they have multiple avenues for retrieving information that is stored there, a physical problem with one or more servers does not necessitate an inability to retrieve client information whenever it is requested.

10. The company can continue working even if they lose a number of their own servers

The end result of all of this is a company that is resilient enough to continue operating, even when almost every other company of its type would have to completely cease operations. In short, they have built in so much resiliency by using multiple servers, changing geographic locations and encrypting information in the Cloud that they have created multiple avenues for themselves to send and receive information. That means that they are more versatile than many other companies that perform similar services. Of course, the fact that they have additional avenues for sending and receiving data also means that there are more opportunities for the company to be hacked, hence the reason that they have spent so much money on encryption services and multi-tiered protection.

11. They are worth billions of dollars

At the present time, the company is valued at 2 billion dollars. This is a great deal of money for a company that hasn't really been in business for that many years, especially when you consider the fact that there are a lot of other companies out there competing for their business. When it comes to big data, these types of services are among the most competitive out there. That means that Cockroach Labs has to stay a step ahead of everyone else in order to keep the business they already have, all while simultaneously bringing a new clientele. Clearly, they have figured out how to accomplish this successfully.

12. They generate an annual revenue that isn’t for the faint of heart

Speaking of making a great deal of money, The company tends to generate approximately 36 million dollars a year in annual revenue. That is certainly nothing to take lightly, even in a world where everything revolves around big business on a global scale. In addition to its annual revenue, the company is constantly growing. In essence, there is no reason not to expect the current revenue to continue to grow on an annual basis. At this point, it almost seems as if the sky's the limit when it comes to the amount of annual revenue that the company is capable of making.

13. They have succeeded in a field where there is a great deal of competition

As previously mentioned, there is a great deal of competition in this particular sector. In fact, there are no less than 10 other major companies that are constantly competing with Cockroach Labs. When there is that type of competition out there, it's almost impossible to take a single misstep without losing a significant part of annual revenue. So far, Cockroach Labs has seemingly taken all the right steps.

14. They use a number of different data types for maximum versatility

Remember, this company is all about versatility. As a direct result, they utilize dozens of different data types to ensure that they can reach the maximum number of clients in the shortest possible amount of time. Doing so also helps to enhance the level of security that they are capable of providing to their clients, a definite plus in a world where new cyber threats are constantly emerging.

15. They also enjoy a number of advantages over their competition

The advantages that they have over their competition are numerous. For starters, they are more versatile than most of their competitors. Their pricing is competitive and they are able to provide additional services to clients that simply aren't available through many of their competitors. For these reasons, they are typically seen as a frontrunner in their field.

16. They use their own internal tools to provide outstanding services

They even go as far as developing their own internal tools to ensure that no one else is able to hack their system or copy their work. In a world that deals with multibillion-dollar business deals, it is easy to understand why they want to do everything in-house, even to the point of creating their own tools and systems to operate their company.

17. Some of the biggest companies in existence use them

Because of their efforts, some of the most influential companies in the world utilize their services. It's simple. They are able to provide things that similar companies just can't. As a result, the biggest companies with the most to lose are more interested in using their services because it's easier and more secure.

18. They’ve taken the time to build their own infrastructure

In the end, it all comes down to the fact that they have truly built this company from the ground up. That includes creating all of their own infrastructure to ensure safety and efficiency. This is something that many of their competitors are lacking. It’s also one of the main reasons why they have been able to consistently outdo the competition at almost every turn.

19. They’ve been so successful that other companies are copying them

As a result, they have experienced so much success that other technology-based companies are starting to copy them. Companies like Bose and Comcast are beginning to take note of the work they have done, creating a similar infrastructure in an attempt to do the same things in-house for their own companies.

20. They have major investment backing to carry them into the future

They have also secured some serious financial backing for their future endeavors. As such, companies like Redpoint and Index Ventures have already promised a significant amount of capital for them to continue creating their unique infrastructure and thus, their way of doing business.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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